If any band was an undeserving victim of musical shifts then it was tonight’s openers Last Great Dreamers. Formed in 1989 their brand of good time rock n’ roll seemed tailor made for FM radio and their five star debut album Retrosexual garnered rave reviews. But then came grunge and music industry apathy saw the bands untimely demise. Thankfully after a lengthy hiatus the Dreamers are back and rising like a proverbial phoenix to pick up where they left off. Dressed in that drunken attire as preferred by bands like The Dogs D’Amour and The Quireboys the lads hit the stage with an enthusiasm that renders them extremely likeable and by second track ‘No Sunshine’ they’ve won over any doubters. ‘Miles Away’ follows and successfully fuses the energy of Hanoi Rocks with a glorious T-Rex pop sensibility while ‘White Light (Black Heart)’ is powered by a huge riff and an insanely catchy refrain.
The Craufurd Arms always give their bands a great sound and the Dreamers put it to good use and they cover every inch of the stage with guitarists Mark Valentine and Slyder constantly trading licks and riffs over a tight, solid rhythm section. The band have a veritable arsenal of cracking tunes and pull the frantic rocker ‘Dope School’ out of the bag to great delight and it’s the kind of song that would sound perfect blasting from a convertible on a summers day. ‘Oblivion Kids’ closes their 40 minute set which is just long enough to make their acquaintance whilst leaving the crowd hungry for more.
Despite naming their debut album Funk-O-Metal Carpet Ride there’s nothing particularly funky about the Electric Boys and I’m sure that title has led a few people astray over the years. They’ve always had a kaleidoscopic sound but in the live environment they become more rocky as evidenced by high octane opener ‘Hangover in Hannover’. It’s obvious the Electric Boys are having a good time and by third track ‘Groovus Maximus’ most of the audience are too. However rock is only one facet of the bands sound as a few bars of Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman No Cry’ segues into the swirling psychedelia of ‘Mary in the Mystery World’. Tonight’s set is largely culled from their 2018 acclaimed album The Ghost Ward Diaries with ‘Gangin’ Up’ in particular sounding like AC/DC and Jimi Hendrix jamming. ‘Electrified’ follows and is the perfect vehicle for guitarist Franco Santunione’s soloing which marks him out as one of metals unsung greats and on tonight’s evidence he really deserves more recognition.
Employing a lot of light and shade the poignant ‘Can’t Come Down’ is a new track that’s promised for release on Record Store Day. But there’s plenty of fan favourites too including ‘Rags to Riches’ which features more great guitar work from Franco and is underpinned by bassist Andy Christell and drummer Niklas Sigevall who combine to add a real groove and swing to proceedings. ‘Angel in an Armoured Suit’ is welcomed like an old friend with irrepressible frontman Connie Bloom working the stage like a true pro. Two well deserved encores follow including ‘First the Money, Then the Honey’ which, with a huge, sumptuous hook, evidences a real Cheap Trick influence. Of course they could only close with the classic ‘All Lips and Hips’ and if you think that song couldn’t be bettered they throw in a few bars from Zeppelin’s ‘The Ocean’ which takes it to new heights.
It’s hard to believe the Electric Boys are now in their third decade and sometimes when you see bands of such vintage you get the impression they’re just going through the motions but that’s not the case with the Electric Boys who seem to be ageing like a fine wine. And whether playing small clubs of festivals you know they’ll give 100%
Reviewed by Peter Dennis.